While attending art school back in the late 80s I used to frequent a good dozen record stores in lower Manhattan, just prior to and during the collapse of the vinyl market due to the advent of CDs.
One of those stores was ‘Golden Disc.’ As I remember it was a somewhat dingy shop that had the odd practice of only having empty 7″ sleeves out for display, the actual discs were kept behind the counter and given at checkout. I wouldn’t call it an ‘A’ list shop like the trendier ‘Rebel Rebel’ or ‘Revolver Records’, but on occasion- when those other shops had sold out of that new hot Britpop disc I was after- ‘Golden Disc’ sometimes came through. My research indicates that the store was still open in 1995, but I stopped my NYC vinyl shopping somewhat earlier than that so I had no idea when it closed.
I’m also not clear on when and how the changeover happened, but ‘Bleecker Street Records’ either rose from the remnants of ‘Golden Disc’ or quickly occupied the same address after the previous store’s demise. The online math seems off as well, as the closing date and opening date of both stores overlap by several years. Either way, the link was maintained to the extent that the sign for the new shop has similarities to the old.
When I visited the store in the summer of 2013 it was weeks away from closing due to a rent increase, although none of this showed openly via signage or employee morale.
The store brought back many fine memories, even though I’d never been there before and it was too ‘new’ to be of the classic stores I remembered. It certainly had that ‘old record store’ vibe going on- grungy and musty, records displayed on walls in a way only years of careful arrangement can muster, worn record dividers thick with the grime of a thousand hands having flipped through them.
They say you should never buy a gun at a gun show. This piece of sage advice holds true for records as well; the store had an impressive collection of local NYC artists displayed- from The Contortions to Lydia Lunch- but they were obviously meant as show pieces as the prices were a little on the insane side.
The basement was were the action was. I was able to find more than a few gems littered amongst the wall-to-wall vinyl. Yes, most could probably be had easily enough online… but there’s something about finding them ‘in the wild’ that still appeals to me. Prices weren’t amazing, but competitive with sources such as eBay if shipping costs are taken into consideration.
I’m happy to say that ‘Bleecker Street Records’ still exists, now at their new locale 188 West 4th St., between Jones and Barrow. I’m sure it will be brighter and cleaner than the old place, but hopefully they’ll be around long enough for that honest patina of age to build anew…